From the Captain's Chair: Protecting the Navigability of Our Waterways
By: Sean Smith
Date posted: Mar 06, 2019 Wed
I hope everyone had an opportunity to visit the Miami Yacht Show and the Miami International Boat Show this month and that many of you have plans to attend the Palm Beach International Boat Show next month as the boat show season comes to a close. While different in the size and scope of FLIBS, collectively the shows are important drivers to our regional marine industry, which, as you know, now has a $12 billion economic impact and supports 142,000 jobs.
You may have heard about some unexpected Intracoastal Waterway bridge closures in Broward and Palm Beach counties this month, which fortunately did not negatively impact our industry, but potentially could have. After a mechanical failure of the Atlantic Avenue bridge in Delray Beach, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was forced to perform preemptive inspections of similarly designed bridges, including those on Commercial and Las Olas Boulevards where additional faulty bolts were discovered, requiring all three bridges to be partially or fully locked down. With 11 bridges over the ICW and five over the New River in Broward County, it is imperative that we invest in the necessary infrastructure to safeguard the continued navigability of our waterways. Our constant refrain for additional and improved infrastructure is in part to ensure predictable and scheduled upgrades, maintenance, and repairs to allow businesses and boat owners to prepare appropriately and for our regional community to have a 21st century transportation system.
One proposed infrastructure project that we don’t support, however, is a pedestrian walkway over the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale. This FDOT proposal is a misguided attempt to solve a problem that already has multiple solutions. We are vehemently opposed to any further impediments along the New River that would interfere with the ability of the many businesses and boatyards to continue to navigate the river safely. FDOT has scheduled a “Public Kick-Off Meeting” to develop and evaluate design concepts for the pedestrian crossing on Thursday, March 14th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Trinity Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall. MIASF will be there to oppose the plan and impress upon the presenters the threat this bridge presents to the substantial economic impact of our industry. I invite anyone who has the time to join us and stand up against this enormous waste of taxpayer money. Feel free to call the office if you need any additional information.
In a world of economic uncertainty, it’s encouraging to know that our industry is still growing and that recent sales in our activated marine Foreign Trade Zone sites, like Bahia Mar and Lauderdale Marine Center, are aiding companies in doing business and offering opportunities for significant savings that are not available anywhere else in the country. MIASF established the Foreign Trade Zones as an additional tool for its members and an advantage to businesses and owners, which is still only available in South Florida. The more sites that get activated, the more we secure and protect our position as the yachting capital of the world.